Missing fisherman 'fell overboard and died trying to free stuck creel'

Joe Masson, 73, was last seen around 1.30pm on October 16, 2021, after going fishing on his boat Goodway.

Missing Aberdeenshire fisherman Joe Masson ‘trying to free stuck creel fell overboard and died’, MAIB says MAIB

A missing fisherman is presumed to have fallen overboard and died after trying to free creel that was stuck on the seabed, an investigation has concluded.

Joe Masson left his home in Fraserburgh at 10am on October 16, 2021, to go out on his single-handed creel fishing boat, Goodway.

The 73-year-old was last seen a few hours later, at around 1.30pm, onboard the vessel from Cairnbulg Harbour, Cairnbulg.

His family reported him missing after he failed to return home later that day and a search involving police, HMS Coastguard, the MOD and the RNLI was launched to trace him.

Joe Masson was last seen at 1.30pm aboard the Goodway FR23. Police Scotland

The Goodway’s upturned hull was spotted during the search and rescue operation at around 10.33pm, but Mr Masson was not found.

He is presumed to have fallen overboard and died while trying to free creels that had become fast in rocks on the seabed.

A probe by the Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) has now concluded that the skipper, while trying to free creels that had become stuck in rocks on the seabed, had fallen overboard and died.

The Goodway was also found to not be equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), and its personal locator beacon (PLB) did not meet regulatory requirements.

His vessel was found later the same night. MAIB

Identifying some key safety issues, the report found that single-handed fishing can be “high-risk”, and advised fishers to follow industry guidelines to minimise the chance of being pulled overboard.

Upon inspecting the vessel, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency Surveyor found that the PLB purchased as an alternative to the EPIRB was not of the approved type.

Concluding the report, the MAIB recommended the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issue advice to remind surveyors of the different types of PLBs that may be encountered, and which of these are acceptable alternatives to EPIRBs.

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